By Samindra Kunti
October 9 – The Netherlands and Switzerland have taken pole positions to reach next month’s play-off final for the last European qualifying spot for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. In the first legs of the play-offs the European champions defeated Denmark 2-0 on home soil while the Swiss came back twice to draw 2-2 in Belgium.
First-half goals from Lineth Beerensteyn and Shanice van de Sanden earned the Netherlands the precious win at the Rat Verlegh Stadion in Breda in a repeat of the Euro 2017 final when the Dutch also triumphed. The hosts have been enjoying great popularity since their Euro victory on home soil – the 16,000 available tickets were sold out in 50 minutes.
The Dutch dominated the first stanza with fluent football, commitment, concentration and a bit of daring. After the break Denmark pressed in search of a goal, but to no avail. On Tuesday, Denmark host the return leg in Viborg, with the Netherlands firm favourites to progress.
“I think they’re pretty anxious about us, and when they’re attacking, they’re pretty vulnerable at the back, we’re just as dangerous in the front,” said Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman.
In Leuven, Belgium twice took the lead before allowing Switzerland to claw their way back into the game twice. In the fifth minute Janice Cayman opened the scoring, but the Swiss equalised ten minutes after the break, the first of two goals from Alisha Lehmann. Laura Deneve responded with a well struck second goal, but Lehman scored again with three minutes left on the clock to give the visitors a valuable draw and two away goals. On Tuesday, Belgium travel to Biel for the second leg.
“We have to travel to Switzerland with confidence, but there is just some disappointment, but we have to recover and get on the plane as freshly as possible,” said Belgian coach Ivan Serneels. “For me the chances are still fifty-fifty, and if we have to win, we can win.”
The play-off final for the last European qualifying spot at France 2019 is scheduled for November. From the European confederation England, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Sweden and Spain have already qualified for the tournament. The 2019 Women’s World Cup will run for one month from June 7 until July 7 next year.
Contact the writer of this story Samindra Kunti at moc.l1582175509labto1582175509ofdlr1582175509owedi1582175509sni@o1582175509fni1582175509